Sunday, December 2, 2012

Half My Arsenal

A lot of times when emailing my word document entries to my conspirators I wonder if, when I write a title that could be perceived as threatening, or that contains a word meant to trigger the National Security Administration computer’s alarm to a potential threat, if someone in Washington intercepts my entry and reads it. Today’s entry, containing the word ‘arsenal’ certainly would qualify.

If so: Welcome, dear Shadow Reader. I hope you enjoy my musings.

Of course, all of you regular readers know that I mean no one any harm, least of all anyone in America or America herself. I do enjoy the possibility of being read in Washington though, and by a top agency such as the NSA, at that! Don’t worry: I don’t try to trip their very often.

To satisfy curiosity: this entry has to do with winter garb, not weaponry.

It has started getting cold around here. Although I do have to say that so far, the temps have been mild compared to winters past, when I was bundling up to my eyeteeth and still freezing. This year I’m barely into my longjohns. And here it is, literally one hour before December 1st!

That is the arsenal of which I speak. After 2 winters here I am now used to the idea that there will be no ambient heat for the next 4 months or so, even though, while enjoying the warmer temps of the other seasons the cold of winter became a matter of conjecture. I harbor no real memory of how bad it really was. Isn’t that the way the mind is designed to work?

So here I sit, toasty warm and snug as a bug in a rug, writing you. Beside my desk, in its storage packaging is my space heater, as yet unused this season. I don’t anticipate having to use it, either. What is so different this year from years past?

First guess is that I finally feel wholly myself. Since having arrived here 2 years ago I’ve been feeling ‘punky’, because of stomach woes and because of allergies, both afflictions that endured. It seems the stomach problem is gone and now the allergies are under control. Score 2 points for me.

Next guess is that I’ve redefined how to tackle the issue of keeping warm. Whereas in the states we are used to heating our spaces, in China one heats one’s self. I wasn’t very good at that… till now. Now that I’ve gotten over the idea that I should heat up whole rooms at a time – and not being really successful at it, I’ve formulated a scheme of heating only my nesting sites: my desk chair, the couch I lounge on while watching TV and my bed.

Here is what gets me. The first year I was here I learned of bed heaters. They resemble an electric blanket but are placed as a mattress pad would be. After Sam educated me to them I immediately bought one for my bed and, for that first winter in the Concrete Bunker my bed was the warmest place in the house. Why I didn’t think to buy similar heaters for my chair and couch till now is a mystery. I’m putting it down to being not quite myself.

But now I am myself, and thus have mattress pad-like heaters in all places I park my derriere. Even though the ambient temperature in my apartment is right about 55 degrees Fahrenheit I am comfortable. Even my hands and feet are warm.

I’m not having to dress in layers now. The last 2 years I felt like the Michelin Woman, bundled as I was. My shoes barely fit for all the socks I was wearing and, for that matter I could barely get my shoes on because I was too padded to reach my feet. And still I was miserably cold.  

Not a problem this year. I am wearing a pair of longjohns under my regular clothes but I’m not so bundled that I could be auditioning for the role of the younger brother in A Christmas Story.

Like General Patton surveying his troops I inspect my winter wardrobe, standing at the ready. I still have socks with wicking action, woolen socks, fleece lined undergarments and oversized outer garments in my defense against the chill. Beyond that I have my parka and my Gor-Tex lined sports jacket, my thermo-insulated gloves, leg warmers and a variety of scarves. None of which I’ve yet called into service.

I am wearing a hat already but then, I’ve been wearing a hat since I saw fit to dash myself into a metal pole, splitting my head open. I have to hide the fact that I barely have any hair on top of my head, dont’cha know. Now the hat serves a double purpose: keeping my head warm while concealing my stubble.   

And then there is the space heater, my gel-pack hand warmer and my electric foot warmer. All of these things in my winter arsenal are as yet unused. For now I am happy and toasty with just my heating pads, strategically located.

For the worst of winter’s dreaded icy blast, in January/February, I will be stateside. Not that it doesn’t get cold in the states but I will be in the southern states where winters are traditionally milder. And, in the states people heat their spaces instead of themselves. I’m looking forward to sleeping in a bed that does not require warming and dining in restaurants with windows fogged by steam and warmth from within.

Yes, I gloat. C’mon, Old Man Winter. I’m ready for you. You may already be here but so far, I’m only using half my arsenal. When you start with your antics I’ll be completely decked out. You’re not going to get the better of me this year!            

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